Just the title alone excited me enough to read this book. Big summer mashup movie Cowboys & Aliens is set for later this year, so why not jump into the genre-hopping madness with Samurai and Dinosaurs?
I honestly expected this book to be extremely light on story and heavily focused on the bloodletting carnage of battle, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some depth. An alien crystal crashes in Japan during the feudal era. People begin to go missing, and a task force is sent to investigate.
It’s a simple set up, yet the use of Lost-style flashbacks and a clear love of samurai movies sets this story apart from simplistic fare. In fact, I would compare Samurai and Dinosaursto a mix between The Seven Samurai and The Land that Time Forgot.
Just to be clear, there is still plenty of samurai and dinosaur carnage. Using only pen and ink, artist Sergio Calvet easily handles the battle scenes with a sense of fluidity. Some of the fights include those fantastic “jump out and scare you / kill you” moments from Jurassic Park, and they play just as effectively on the page.
I must admit that there were a few barriers to the story. A few character designs were similar enough to cause confusion. Color art often makes distinguishing character easier, so artists working in black and white are always fighting to differentiate their cast to make reading easier.
The only other point of confusion is the transition of the scenes. The flashbacks are clearly marked and obvious enough, but there are moments during the warriors’ trek when I wondered if I had skipped a few panels somewhere along the way. While the storytelling is meant to be lean like samurai movies, it is too bare bones to clearly follow at times.
Still, I greatly enjoyed this book. The samurai are honor-bound and appropriately overdramatic. (One character burns his house down when summoned to battle the dinosaurs. His old ways will now be forever erased.) The dialogue is exactly what you hope for in a samurai tale, and the art is fantastic. I look forward to seeing what these creators do next.